One of the prime ingredients in a photograph is light.
There are other components too. Subject matter and composition contribute to the elegance and power of a photograph. Those things are not sufficient, however, to neutralize the effects of bad light.
When all three elements are in harmony there is the possibility that you have created a great photo.
I have photographed many ladies standing in front of this window. During the summer it gets this joyful light several hours a day. It seems celestial to me. Heaven embraces a mortal being. The human greets Heaven. That sort of thing.
I see many photographs in which the light does not contribute to the subject or to the photo. There may be two different reasons for this result. One is the possibility that the photographer does not understand his camera.
Another is that he simply does not pay attention to the light around his subject. I borrowed this photo from a website that belongs to a photography meet up group. The people who attend have declared their interest in photography or in modeling.
The shadow under Jamie’s chin suggests that a flash was used to brighten her face, but the image is still quite cloudy and dim. The photograph does not properly appreciate her.
The photographer chose to post this image to the group’s website in spite of the disappointing light and its uncomplimentary effect on the model.
The point I would like to make is that we all may practice behaviors that ignore what is right in front of us. Do we notice “bad light” in the metaphorical sense?
I told a dear friend of mine that when I am expecting her at my house I always unlock the door, and she is welcome to let herself in. She always rings the doorbell and waits on the porch.
She told me, after several conversations on the subject, that she was told as a child not to open another person’s door. I pointed out that she might have told me that in the beginning so that I could appreciate her point of view. She is obeying instructions she received as a child, and she leaves me to guess at her reluctance to accept my invitation.
I liken her behavior to not noticing when the light is wrong for a photograph. I’m sure we all have our version of this.
What do we not notice? Pondering the question might lead to some profound discoveries.